Get to Know Caroline Romano: Rising Pop-Punk and Alternative Powerhouse
Rising pop-punk/alternative artist Caroline Romano released her new single, "The Hypothetical," on July 30.
"The Hypothetical" is an upbeat anthem about "what ifs" and the person you can't seem to stop thinking about. "I wanted to capture that feeling of being so infatuated with a crush that it’s borderline a state of psychosis," Romano shared about the song. "Everything’s sweet and sour all at the same time. It’s nothing serious. It’s Barbie and Ken in wonderland, even if it’s only in your head. It’s just hypothetical."
The single's swell of distorted guitar, catchy melodies, and clever and relatable lyrics will have you smiling and singing along throughout the entire song. "The Hypothetical" has a refreshingly honest energy, as well as a vast dynamic range. Breaks and shifts in the drum track showcase Romano's emotive vocal performance, and create thoughtful space for the powerful hookline.
We spoke to Caroline Romano about her influences, new music, songwriting process, and more.
Read the full interview and listen to "The Hypothetical" below:
How are you doing today?
I’m doing well, thank you! It’s early in the morning right now, and I always feel a mix of tiredness and extreme optimism this early in the day. My song just came out, so I’m feeling a combination of emotions about that. Overall, I’m very blessed and doing great.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from a small town in Mississippi–Hattiesburg to be exact. However, I started coming to Nashville when I was thirteen years old, and I moved here by myself when I was seventeen. Nashville has always felt like home to me.
At what age did you first start playing music? Who or what inspired you?
Music has always been a core part of my existence. It’s always been the way through which I’ve seen the world. My mom wasn’t musical, but she would sing to me all the time growing up… that was how we communicated for the first few years of my life. Singing and talking were somewhat interchangeable for me as a child in my day-to-day. I can’t remember when I decided that I wanted to actually start playing music, and I don’t know if it was my love for Hannah Montana, or Taylor Swift, but I always knew I wanted to play music. I got my first real guitar when I was about nine, and I was simply addicted to it from my first chord. I started songwriting when I was about twelve or thirteen years old; I think it was a combination of Taylor Swift and life as a 7th grader that inspired me to start writing. I would journal about my day at school, or I’d make up “what if” scenarios in my head and write them down. I then started putting those journals and daydreams to my guitar, and there was songwriting: the love of my life.
What was the first live show you saw?
I remember this show so vividly, it’s insane. It was the Taylor Swift Red concert on May 25, 2013, and I was in the fifth grade. My parents and I drove from Mississippi to Dallas just for the show; it changed my life. Watching it, in that moment, I could feel it changing my life. I can still hear my heart beat. I had never heard something so loud, as that curtain dropped in the most dramatic and Taylor of fashions. The soundtrack I listened to on my CD player every day in my room sounded impossibly more beautiful–I cried. I cried not just because of how beautiful it all was, but also from the longing of it all. Something stirred in me that night: an innate sense of a dream I couldn’t yet hold. It grabbed me and it’s never let me go. To be on a stage like that, and to make some other fifth grader’s heart beat the same way mine did that night has always been the deepest of my dreams–one that I see in the daylight and in my sleep. That show was the first time I experienced that “feeling.” We all know that feeling; the one the human race may never be able to fully put into words.
"To be on a stage like that, and to make some other fifth grader’s heart beat the same way mine did that night has always been the deepest of my dreams–one that I see in the daylight and in my sleep."
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as introspective, coming of age punk-pop alternative. Sometimes it’s early 2000’s punk style, and other times it’s just an acoustic guitar.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
My biggest musical influences are Freddie Mercury, Noah Kahan, YUNGBLUD, Taylor Swift, and Lauv.
What draws you to the pop-punk/alternative genre?
I love the pop-punk/alternative genre because it’s what I listened to in middle school; it was my coming of age soundtrack. It got me through some of the hardest times in my life, and I love that there are simply no rules to it. With the link genre, you can always work to fit the music around the words. Words come first, and words are my favorite part... You can express every emotion under the sun in pop-punk–you can scream, whisper, cry, and laugh all in the same song. It’s the most dramatic of genres, and the world is always ending. I can’t get enough of it.
"You can express every emotion under the sun in pop-punk–you can scream, whisper, cry, and laugh all in the same song."
Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written?
I think my favorite song I’ve written that I’ve actually released is “Stream of Consciousness.” I wrote it in one take–in one sitting–when I was seventeen. It was just me writing down my stream of consciousness as it came to me and putting it to a guitar. It sums up my life in so many ways, and I’m very proud of that song. However, most of my favorite songs I’ve written have yet to be released. I’m working on that because it’s hard to let your favorites go. There’s one particular song I have in mind; it’s another acoustic song, but I love it more than anything else I’ve written. The day is coming very, very soon, when I will release it.
Why do you love music?
I don’t think there’s an answer for this one, as I don’t think the words exist to fully say it. I love music in the deepest, scariest, most ancient of ways; it’s the whole world in your ears. It’s cinematic, tragic, and oh-so-necessary for me to even take a single breath. It comes down to that “feeling”. That feeling I cannot place or describe, though I try time and time again–that supernatural whisper. Music is a “thin place”, as C.S. Lewis might say, where our world and heaven are closest. It’s where the veil is thin, and we get that glimpse into a world we don’t know, but long for in the deepest of ways. I love music, as it lets me just be. I fit in with music, because with music, nobody really fits in. It’s all so different and beautiful and weird, and it’s life summarized in stanzas and notes. Music is heaven on earth.
"It’s all so different and beautiful and weird, and it’s life summarized in stanzas and notes."
Tell me a little bit more about “The Hypothetical”; what inspired it?
“The Hypothetical” stemmed from my aversion to reality. I spend a lot of time in the “what if” scenarios; I love the impossible, as I don’t think any of it is really impossible. “The Hypothetical” is about that borderline state of psychosis, whether it’s romance or just a world you create in your brain. My co-writers on this song, Michael and Chuckie Aiello, know my aversion to reality and it’s limits, and Michael came in with the idea of letting me create my own version of a hypothetical world.
Describe your songwriting process.
My songwriting process is different each time it happens, and that’s part of why I’m so in love with it. Sometimes a song will stem from writing a poem, and sometimes it’s simply hearing a phrase in my head over and over again. Other times, I’ll sit down with my guitar or piano with a subject matter in mind and write from that perspective. I also occasionally collaborate with other writers in co-writes, and it’s always interesting to see how those songs play out. Sometimes it’s with an idea or a specific track in mind, but a lot of it is just winging it.
What is one thing that you wish more people knew about you?
I wish more people knew how anxious of a person I really am. I think people expect that who I am on stage and on social media is how I am in my day-to-day life. I am 100% myself on stage–and pretty much never myself on social media–but both of those outlets don’t really display what a shy, nervous person I can be in my everyday life. I often feel awkward and out of place with my peers and in my body… I’m an anxious wreck most of the time. I wish more people knew that, mostly because I want to be there for other people who feel the same way I do.
Share about your experience in the music industry as a woman.
My experience as a woman in the music industry has overall been very positive. I started in this industry when I was only thirteen, so I’m happy to say that things have been mostly positive. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I wished I was a boy in this industry; you can make it that much quicker as one. Girls are the target audience across the board, and it’s easier for record labels to market boys. But, I’m well aware that there are pros and cons to both parties. It’s very important, as a woman in this industry, to be loud. You’ve got to speak up–for yourself and for your vision. You learn that quickly.
"You’ve got to speak up–for yourself and for your vision."
What is one thing you wish you knew when you first entered the music industry?
I wish I’d known that overnight success doesn’t exist, and the saying “it just takes time” is the most important statement of all in the industry. It truly does take time; no one makes it overnight, even if they try to make it look like they did. I wish I’d known that the only way you can really fail is by giving up. You’ve got a zero percent chance of making it if you quit, but you’re much closer to a 100% chance of making it than you might think. You’ve just gotta keep going; it takes time.
What’s next for Caroline Romano?
I am releasing a lot of music this year–a single every six weeks to be exact–leading up to the release of my first collection of music. I’m not sure if it’s an EP or an album, but it’s music I’ve held for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally be putting it out into the world. I’m also hoping to finally get back to playing some live shows/touring. Big things are on the horizon, so stay tuned.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
I guess I’d just like people to know that I have no idea what I’m doing, and I think that’s the right idea of it all. I’m writing it all down as it comes along, and I’m still figuring out how to make it past noon each day. But, I’m here for this ride with you, and I hope that sharing my experience and views on the world and life as they come to me can help you get through everything, too.